Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Packing Art Supplies for the Trip

I've seen several blog and facebook posts in last few days about taking art supplies on airplanes.

If you've been reading this blog lately you know that I recently took a trip to Italy. For my 2 week travels I packed mostly art supplies in my two bags, both of which I carried on.

I took pastels, charcoal and chalk, pencils and eraser, a tiny pan watercolor set, a tripod and my painting box that attaches to the tripod, and some oil colours, along with paper, panels and a canvas pad. (I took very few clothes except for what I was wearing in layers on the plane!)

I was careful when packing the oils to take half-used tubes which would fit with my other liquids/gels in the 1 quart baggie. And of course, I brought NO solvents.

I figured it wouldn't be too hard to locate some paint thinner or turpentine once I was at my destination. (However, it was NOT easy to find some! I've already posted a little about that in past couple of blog posts.)

Ah... back to airport security. I also packed along the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for the oils, in case I needed them.

Everything went through the xray and security checks okay in the US and I wasn't hassled. I did get randomly pulled aside to have my computer sized bag looked at during a flight switch while still in the US. The two security folks were actually very pleasant (even excited for me) when I explained that I was carrying mostly art supplies in that bag for an art trip to Italy. They took a quick look inside the bag and then I went back in line to get on the plane. Being singled out was little odd, but not a problem.

In Paris they seemed puzzled by the pastels at the xray point. I explained that I was carrying art supplies and they had the aha moment and let me through without further delay.

In 2005 my family and I flew to France. The pastels seemed to mystify the security folks on xray duty that time too. The fellow at the machine asked, "What am I looking at?" All were passed through when I explained that they were artist's chalks of various pigments and they had a look inside the box.

(My boys' football which they had packed in their carry-on was quite another puzzle for the xray watchers! They removed the ball from the bag to have a closer look.)

So... how did I locate some paint thinner in Italy? We finally found a hardware store (ferramenta = ironmongery) on a drive through one of the towns. My husband and I found it challenging to get across to the clerk what we wanted. Walking around the store we discovered a can of something on the shelf with the house paints that was supposed to be turpentine. Our Italian language skills lacked the necessary terms to ask conclusively, but miming the act of painting and washing brushes seemed to get the idea across well enough.

Turns out it that the can I bought contained some kind of mixture, as the label disclosed that mineral spirits was an ingredient. It worked for painting and cleaning brushes, though, so I was grateful to have it.

I'd been using my baby oil and shampoo for washing out brushes before I got the paint thinner, which worked just fine for cleaning. By the way, baby oil (or vegetable oil) works for this purpose, or for cleaning paint off of one's hands while working. I usually carry a little container of it in my plein air paint box to clean my hands when I need to.

At our last hotel stop before we left for the airport I was able to leave the can of paint thinner with the desk clerk, who kindly assured me they could use it when I explained that I could not take it home with me.


Dana said...

Great article, very informative! All that planning, but it made the trip go smoothly. Glad the airport security were nice.

warmly, Dana

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thanks for dropping by, Dana. It's nice to hear from you!

I worked on the packing for a couple of weeks before our trip to find all the right containers, supplies, clothing, etc. and figure out how it all fit together.

I thought a lot about how to compress the essentials I needed in the available packing space. I'm glad I didn't wait until the last minute to pack!

afarnsworthaday said...

Hi Diana,
Next trip, consider using walnut oil. I use M. Graham paints (walnut oil based) and their Walnut Oil, Alkyd mix, exclusively, and love that it's non toxic, nearly odorless, and serves well as medium, brush cleaner and hand cleaner!
I do a daily painting, so my brushes don't dry out. If not using them daily, I would recommend the straight walnut oil for clean up.
John Farnsworth

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thank you for this suggestion, John. I actually considered this option as I've heard good things about the Graham paints.

However, I like the really fast dry characteristic of the alkyds I brought along. It's great to be able to pack up a painting I did only a few hours previously and have it already dry to the touch.

hmuxo said...

Great information, Diana. My husband works for the Airlines and he tells me of all the paints and thinners that are confiscated every day. You just have to know.. what you can take along with you before a lot of money is "thrown out" in paints.

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Hilda, I can certainly understand that paint thinner would be confiscated, but why would paint not be allowed? Oil colours are not flammable.

Is it that they were not separated with the liquids and gels in a one quart baggie?

hmuxo said...

Usually its hazardous if its oil paints, but I "think" it depends on the quantity in the tube, so if its small and wrapped it should be okay..and if its okay with TSA after security it should be fine. TSA is a Government Agency and they have control over what goes on the plane.

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Thank you for responding, Hilda. A search on the TSA website indicates that artists' oil colors can be included with liquids and gels in the 1 qt. baggie if they are 3.4 ounces or less.

Oil paints are no more flammable than other vegetable oil based products such as face cream.